Making Connections -- The 3 Biggest Mistakes To Avoid And What to Do Instead

Networking is about making connections.  The more quality connections you make, the better for your business. But making connections is a skill that some people find challenging.  Fortunately, it's also a skill that can be learned.  And not only that -- if you can just eliminate the biggest mistake people make, you'll improve your results significantly, ...and fast.

The good news is that it is really quite easy to fix -- once you pay attention to it.  Read on to find out more.
Prejudging people is one of the biggest mistakes you can make because it limits your success in making connections. Here are three different  things to watch for.  
1. Everyone you meet could be a possible connection
Yes, everyone! Even if you can't immediately figure out how they will fit.  But take a little time and you'll find that there are many different types of possible connections:  casual, formal, business, referral and networking connections -- and every one of them can be valuable.  Your goal is to find out where the people you meet will fit.
Of course if you're attending networking events in the hopes of finding a prospect or client, you're already off track and likely to be disappointed.  Or maybe you're only looking for one or two of the possible types of connections, and if people don't fit, you don't see the point in connecting with them. Yet they might have led to a veritable goldmine of referrals down the road.
2. Find the positive
Most people spot the negative first, which is an even more disastrous networking mistake. Often the idea behind this "negative first" strategy is to eliminate people before you have spent (or "wasted") any of your precious time or energy on them.  It's almost as if you're trying to find a reason to eliminate them so they can move on to the next prospect. 
And we all make this mistake at one time or another.  Maybe we don't like their voice, or the way they dress.  Maybe they don't score very high on the physical attractiveness scale.  Maybe they remind us of someone we don't like.  No matter what it may be, looking for the negative can be a huge barrier to connecting with others.
In fact, discounting people because there's something we don't like about them at first glance is a key factor when it comes to missed opportunities.  And, we'll never know what we've missed out on.
This is easy to turn it around.  Just look for the positive instead. In my networking seminars I say - "seek to be impressed by everyone you meet".  After all, aren't we all impressive! Everyone has done something, knows someone, been somewhere I haven't. So in my conversations if I come seeking to be impressed - looking for the positive, and set aside judgments it's a perfect combination for building connections. 
3. Be careful how you read people
Here's a third way in which prejudging can hurt your sales and networking efforts:  we often misread people.  Instead of jumping to conclusions, get curious! -- start asking questions. The answers will help reveal their attitudes, their interests and much more, all of which can help you connect with them and, potentially develop a referral partner, collaborator, friend or yes, maybe even a sale.
There's one thing that is needed to do all of the above: an open mind.  Luckily, you'll quickly find that if you consistently work on finding people's good points and where they could fit into your network of connections, especially if you get curious and carefully listen to their answers, you'll find a wealth of opportunities and build the most valuable asset you could possibly have - a connection!